Fig 1: Removing the corrugated iron reveals a modern timber roof and a cruck-frame
In early June 2020, I became aware that a neighbour on the braes below me was doing up an old cottage, with a 1970’s extension, that he had inherited from his father. He was one of four children brought up in the old cottage in the 1960’s. Once he had removed the corrugated iron roof from the cottage, a peat and heather roof was revealed. When that was removed a wooden cruck-frame appeared. I showed a photo (fig 1) to colleagues who immediately suggested that I should survey and record it. Cruck-framed buildings are not so common these days. There was additional interest in that the cruck-frame had been overlaid by a more modern roof and that the building is likely to be demolished.
How old is it? The online Lovat Estate maps show that the braes above, ie W of, Beauly were increasingly brought into crofting, gradually extending into moorland, between the mid-18th century and the early part of the 19th century. According to those maps, one of the crofts, Ruisaurie, had two croft numbers in 1757, eight numbers in 1798-1800, seventeen in 1823 and twenty-four in 1839. The crofts increased by both being sub-divided, and by new croft settlements being established on the higher ground. Confusingly, the numbering of the crofts changed over time, although by 1876 the croft numbering had become established to reflect the croft numbering now.
Raigmore Hospital was erected as part of the Emergency Medical Scheme (EMS) on part of the Raigmore estate and opened in 1941. The Emergency Medical Scheme was established to provide adequate medical facilities for expected wartime casualties and Raigmore was one of seven new hospitals built during the war. They were all built to a standard design, but because of restrictions in the use of timber and steel, the buildings at Raigmore were brick, single storey and flat roofed. An aerial photograph, taken in 1948, of the new hospital shows the layout to the south of Raigmore House on the east side of Inverness. There were 16 individual wards and an isolation unit providing about 670 beds. Staff accommodation was provided at the north-west corner of the site and a further collection of individual blocks between the staff accommodation and the wards housed administration, kitchens, dining rooms, laboratories and other services.
After the war, Raigmore continued to provide hospital services to Inverness and the surrounding area along with, principally, the R.N.I., Culduthel Hospital and Hilton Hospital but by the 1960s the facilities in Inverness were not meeting modern needs and in 1962 plans for a new general hospital to serve Inverness were put in place. As an EMS hospital Raigmore was never designed to last for ever. By 1966 work had begun on the new hospital for the Highlands and it was decided that it had to be at Raigmore, because that was where there was enough space to develop the facilities. Phase 1 of the development was opened in 1970. It incorporated the Outpatients Department, laboratories, pharmacy, physiotherapy and records. Dr. James Bruce, who in 1947 was appointed consultant biochemist, finally got the new laboratory that he was promised at interview.
An aerial view of the hospital in 1972 shows Phase 1 at the bottom of the photo, but the original hospital buildings are still there and in use. When comparing this view with the earlier view taken in 1948 the only other differences are that the walled garden has become part of the hospital car park, and the College of Nursing has been built to the right of the wards.